Singapore-flagged vessel released after being seized off Cameroon

PHOTO: Marine Traffic

SINGAPORE - A Singapore-flagged oil tanker, which was reported to have been seized by private militiamen in Cameroon last week, has been released.

In a statement on Wednesday (Feb 6), Singapore-based firm Eastern Pacific Shipping said it had confirmed the vessel, named Barents Sea, had departed the port of Limbe in Cameroon with all 26 crew members safe and unharmed as of Tuesday (Feb 5).

The vessel was seized last week by Cameroonian private militiamen armed with AK-47 sub-machine guns at the Sonara Refinery in Limbe.

Eastern Pacific Shipping alleged at the time that Mr Jules Fran├žois Famawa, owner of local charterer DSC Marine, had "used illegitimate means to seize the vessel for the purpose of holding its owners to ransom in clear violation of Cameroonian and international law".

In its statement, Eastern Pacific Shipping thanked the crew for their "unwavering strength, resilience and professionalism throughout the dreadful encounter".

The firm also thanked the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy, the various embassies representing the ship's crew - which includes Indian, Chinese and Turkish nationals - and the Cameroonian authorities.

"DSC Marine's conduct and blatant disregard for local and international laws have proven to be futile. We sincerely hope that future disagreements can be resolved without resorting to hostile means," said Eastern Pacific Shipping.

The firm added it remains "committed to holding the highest management standards in the maritime industry by complying with all applicable local and international rules and regulations with a priority on the health, safety and security of our crew".

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.